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Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom

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Peter Hammill biography
Peter Joseph Andrew Hammill (born 5 November 1948 in Ealing, West London, England)

Peter HAMMILL is one of the most unique and influential voices in prog. He was the pivotal figure in VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VDGG for short) who formed in 1967 at Manchester University. His obsession with lost love, lost faith, time, space and existence itself are the cornerstones of both his work with the band and his solo albums. He was also their principle songwriter. The classic line-up was the HAMMILL, Banton, Jaxon, Evans combo which produced the peak "Pawn Hearts", "Still Life" and "Godbluff" albums. He has since brought out at least 30 solo albums, marked by lyrics of the utmost insight (usually) and a total refusal to compromise. Their complex music, as often brutal as it was lyrical, fitted somewhat uneasily into the once and then niche of Progressive Rock. An interesting figure whose albums certainly merit investigation..!

The first of a classic trilogy in progressive rock history, "Chameleon"... and its companion pieces "The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage" and "In Camera", are as good if not better than many of the VDGG albums. FOR FANS OF PETER HAMMILL...!

See also:
- Van Der Graaf Generator
- The Long Hello

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From the TreesFrom the Trees
Fie 2017
$11.12 (used)
Nadirs Big ChanceNadirs Big Chance
EMI Europe Generic 2007
$4.99 (used)
Silent Corner & The Empty StageSilent Corner & The Empty Stage
Extra tracks · Remastered
Caroline 2006
$3.45 (used)
Fools MateFools Mate
Extra tracks · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2005
$14.00 (used)
Chameleon in the Shadow of the NightChameleon in the Shadow of the Night
Extra tracks · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2006
$8.46 (used)
Extra tracks · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2006
$4.16 (used)
Enter KEnter K
Fie 2009
$24.99 (used)
All That Might Have BeenAll That Might Have Been
Imports 2014
$8.98 (used)
& Close As This& Close As This
EMI Europe Generic 2007
$21.84 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Maida Vale 1994 BBC Sessions original CD Peter Hammill USD $15.99 Buy It Now
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Van Der Graaf Generator - Maida Vale BBC Radio 1 Sessions 1971-76 Peter Hammill USD $25.20 Buy It Now 21h
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PETER HAMMILL discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

PETER HAMMILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 298 ratings
Fool's Mate
4.04 | 322 ratings
Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night
4.31 | 759 ratings
The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
4.14 | 343 ratings
In Camera
3.76 | 240 ratings
Nadir's Big Chance
3.96 | 306 ratings
3.50 | 194 ratings
The Future Now
3.66 | 184 ratings
3.93 | 218 ratings
A Black Box
3.54 | 159 ratings
Sitting Targets
3.76 | 138 ratings
Enter K
3.71 | 128 ratings
3.20 | 74 ratings
Loops & Reels
2.98 | 109 ratings
3.57 | 111 ratings
And Close As This
2.80 | 84 ratings
In A Foreign Town
3.32 | 89 ratings
Out Of Water
3.43 | 96 ratings
The Fall Of The House Of Usher
3.05 | 56 ratings
Peter Hammill-Guy Evans: Spur Of The Moment
3.71 | 121 ratings
2.77 | 76 ratings
The Noise
2.32 | 40 ratings
Offensichtlich Goldfisch
3.29 | 84 ratings
Roaring Forties
3.22 | 80 ratings
X My Heart
2.42 | 56 ratings
3.46 | 79 ratings
Everyone You Hold
3.44 | 77 ratings
2.82 | 43 ratings
Roger Eno & Peter Hammill: The Appointed Hour
3.98 | 80 ratings
The Fall Of The House Of Usher (New Version)
2.80 | 64 ratings
None Of The Above
3.27 | 66 ratings
What , Now?
2.75 | 51 ratings
3.59 | 75 ratings
3.75 | 98 ratings
3.58 | 90 ratings
3.31 | 94 ratings
Thin Air
3.59 | 66 ratings
3.58 | 69 ratings
Peter Hammill/Gary Lucas: Other World
3.62 | 39 ratings
...All That Might Have Been...
3.80 | 26 ratings
From The Trees

PETER HAMMILL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 43 ratings
The Margin +
3.34 | 42 ratings
Room Temperature Live
3.60 | 34 ratings
There Goes the Daylight
3.65 | 29 ratings
The Peel Sessions
3.19 | 16 ratings
3.20 | 23 ratings
The Union Chapel Concert (with Guy Evans)
4.28 | 43 ratings
Typical (Solo Performances)
4.01 | 39 ratings
Veracious (with Stuart Gordon)
3.59 | 17 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII
3.88 | 8 ratings
PNO GTR VOX - Live Performances
3.67 | 6 ratings
Live At Rockpalast - Hamburg 1981

PETER HAMMILL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.93 | 9 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII (video)

PETER HAMMILL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 9 ratings
3.00 | 1 ratings
Peter Hammill
2.58 | 34 ratings
The Love Songs
3.86 | 3 ratings
The Essential Collection
3.00 | 1 ratings
Enter K / Patience
3.00 | 1 ratings
Il Rock
4.00 | 14 ratings
The Calm (After The Storm)
3.31 | 13 ratings
The Storm (Before The Calm)
3.02 | 6 ratings
Past Go - Collected
3.20 | 5 ratings
After The Show (A Collection)
3.00 | 1 ratings
Ο Άγγελος Του Παράξενου
2.33 | 6 ratings
The Thin Man Sings Ballads
3.00 | 1 ratings
Fools Mate / In Camera
3.16 | 6 ratings
Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances

PETER HAMMILL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 5 ratings
Red Shift
2.17 | 4 ratings
Birthday Special / Shingle Song
4.33 | 3 ratings
Crying Wolf
2.67 | 3 ratings
If I Could
2.33 | 3 ratings
My Experience
3.00 | 3 ratings
Paradox Drive
2.50 | 2 ratings
Film Noir
2.33 | 8 ratings
Just Good Friends
1.50 | 2 ratings
Painting by Numbers
1.50 | 2 ratings
A Fix On The Mix


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Noise by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.77 | 76 ratings

The Noise
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by zampino

4 stars I must be one of the few who really likes this record. After the heavy hand of Usher, and the sometimes cloying aspects of Fireships, I found this refreshing. Some of the comments here regard the lyrics, but songs like "Like a shot, the Entertainer" are both insightful, skeptical, and open to interpretation, and the grooves and playing are compelling. Similarly "A Kick to kill the kiss" is great word play in a great setting. Personally I'd remove "The Great European Department Store", but that's the only song that hasn't resonated with me over many listens.

I believe the problem is how "pop" these songs are compared to previous work, but for me it's the start of the modern Peter Hammill, writing songs and not trying to prove how intellectually sophisticated and different his music is. I find it refreshing, and suggest the listener take on his solo catalog in sequence to see how this pushes Hammill forward in the direction that represent the bulk of his coming work. Put it also into perspective with Foreign Town or Out of Water, which use more obvious/electronic beats that date the music; I find "The Noise" to hold up better over the year as a more organic rock record. It's not perfect, but it's a good and unique record with lyrics that fit into a prog listener's aesthetic.

 Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
3.16 | 6 ratings

Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In 2011 Peter Hammill released 2-CD live set "PNO GTR VOX" of his specifically themed solo performances in Japan; on one gig PH is backing himself solely on acoustic guitar, and on another gig with piano (1st and 2nd discs of this release), and later on he changes the instrument during the gig (or disc), but never using both on a same song. No other musicians or instruments are involved in this entire 7-CD box. Sounds like it was made for die-hard fans only, doesn't it? I'm not such fan, even less a completionist for ANY artist, and actually I was very close to give a "collectors/fans only" two-star rating, as that description hits the nail. Let's get it straight at once: clearly this IS fan stuff, not recommended for more casual Hammill listeners. That being said, I'll use the rating scale more freely, based on my personal reception.

Peter Hammill is an artist that strongly divides opinions. Either you like him or you can't get into his music at all. I do like him, and Van der Graaf Generator especially, but definitely not everything he's done. And often, in this case more than ever, the certain rawness won't win any new listeners. Technically, Peter Hammill is an average player of piano. And he's an average player of guitar too. So it's obvious that the power of this music comes from the unique vocalist/lyricist. For those who dislike his voice, listening to this set through would be mere torture. Not that it would be a light task for a dedicated fan either. In the liner notes Hammill admits that there can be TOO MUCH of Peter Hammill to digest at once, referring both to the restricted lengths of the concerts and the lengths of the CD's that only in three cases out of seven exceed the 70-minute mark. He also encourages the listener to edit his/her own ideal set list.

The four gig themes in Japan were "What if I forgot my guitar?", "What if there no piano?", "'What if I knew this was the last show I'd ever do?" and "'What if I played only VdGG/VdG songs?" You can check out the set lists as well as the three other (more or less artificial) CD themes on the album page. Track lengths are unfortunately missing, but in the leaflet PH has listed the studio albums for all songs (a gesture I appreciate!), and the discographies of both VdGG - or VdG - and Hammill's solo career are being covered pretty evenly, ie. there are no many albums that are not represented at all. Some are by one song only, e.g. 'Afterwards' from the VdGG debut (1968), gorgeous 'The Comet...' from In Camera (1974), 'Too Many of My Yesterdays' from And Close As This (1986), 'Time to Burn' from In a Foreign Town (1988), superb 'A Way Out' from Out of Water (1990) or 'I Will Find You' from Fireships (1992). The last mentioned song is one of the most banal songs in this set, and Out of Water would have been a suitable source album in general for one-man performances, just to pick up two examples of could-have-been-better -cases. Some albums, e.g. Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night, Enter K, Patience, or the latest at the time, Thin Air (2009), are sources for three or four songs.

To get the idea of those solo shows, it wouldn't be unwise to choose the 2-CD version instead of the box set. The most irrelevant is the 7th disc containing alternate versions (yeah, talk about "fans only" stuff...). The disc containing only VdGG/VdG songs was the most striking disappointment for me. Simply because these ripped-down versions are SO inferior to the originals! This naturally applies also to some solo stuff, though to notably smaller degree. The better I remember the original, the more I miss the other instruments such as the violin/viola of Stuart Gordon or saxes and flutes of David Jackson that grace several PH albums. CD's 5 and 6 expand the song selection pretty well (even though being under an hour's length) and offer well-functioning songs such as 'Autumn', 'The Lie' and 'Four Pails'. To sum up: if you're a die-hard fan of Peter Hammill and enjoy his unique magic created by passionate vocals and meaningful song-writing, also in the rawest of settings, you'll enjoy this box set. For all others I advice to get some of the best studio albums instead.

 From The Trees by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.80 | 26 ratings

From The Trees
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars This is another fantastic release from Peter Hammill, and a very welcome addition. He is an excellent song writer, and provides a vocal performance and phrasing like no one else. With such an enormous catalog of albums, finding new ground must be a huge challenge. The first thing I noticed with this recording beyond the sparse instrumentation is the layered vocals. Some of the backing vocals sound like there are contributors on this album. From The Trees does not deviate much from other of his modern releases, but surely progresses and advances his unique sound. There are no bad tracks on the album, but What Lies Ahead, On Deaf Ears, and Torpor are early standouts for me. I am a huge fan, and can listen to his material for hours. From the Trees is another adventure that I will enjoy in my collection. 4.5/5. Thank you Peter.
 None Of The Above by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.80 | 64 ratings

None Of The Above
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by CliffX

5 stars After more than 35 years of Prog in my life, here arrives NONE OF THE ABOVE. A big fan of VDGG since early 70's, always thought this band would be forever underrated. The same with Peter Hammill. The other Peter conquered the world with more accessible (very good) material, but this Peter would continue in the underground world. Since the 70's the music wasn't the same. Creativity ended up in the late 70's and comercial times arrived. In 2000 this beautiful CD appeared and I bought it with curiosity. I think this album is perfectly magical for a listenner like me, who was tired of unsuccessfully searching for new and fresh music. Never thought it was so damn good! It is dark like all VDGG but fresh at the same time. I'm a guitar player myself and I think Peter did a very good job with the guitars. He is a fairly good piano player too. Great songs, sound ambients, lyrics, majestic hymns (Astart) like the old times. Itīs a nowadays masterpiece.

 In Camera by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 343 ratings

In Camera
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars This is by far my favorite solo album from Peter Hammill. Of the few solo albums I own by him, I found them hit or miss. For example, 1977's Over I just plain couldn't get into (I realize he was undergoing a messy divorce and had to express that). Ph7 is pretty good, though, and The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage is one of his best. In Camera follows Silent Corner, but the only VdGG member involved here is Guy Evans (OK, so was Chris Judge-Smith, but he was only a very early member of the group). Aside from Evans, is also David Hentschel for the ARP synth programming and Chris Judge-Smith (as mentioned before). Paul Whitehead is also credited, but he was totally unaware he even performed on the album because he already moved to the United States by this time, and was likely an earlier recording he made that was just lying around. Before I go any further, there's definitely a debate about what ARP synth is being used on this album. I've seen sources state ARP 2600. I have always suspect it was the ARP 2500, and here's the reason why: David Hentschel used a 2500 Elton John's "Rocket Man" and most notably "Funeral for a Friend". He programs the ARP on In Camera, Peter Hammill plays it here, and he never used any ARP on any of his other solo albums leaving me to believe it was David Hentschel's 2500. Plus it has a lot of sounds that seem too elaborate and sound effects too complex for a 2600 (I should know, I own a 2600, and I can't get it to do many of those sounds heard on In Camera). Unless there were photos taken of In Camera sessions, I can only guess. Plus the album only states "ARP synthesizer", which could mean (in 1974) Odyssey, Pro Soloist (which would hardly be those), 2600 or 2500.

It seems a couple of the songs on In Camera were Aerosol Grey Machine and Pawn Hearts leftovers, I mean to say, written during that time period, but recorded at the end of 1973/beginning of 1974. Anyways, this stuff is just as great as anything coming out of Van der Graaf Generator. "Ferret and Featherbird" is a gentle acoustic number you often hear from Hammill, this being written in 1969, so it wouldn't seem out of place on The Aerosol Grey Machine (itself intended as a Hammill solo album, but leaked out as a VdGG album). "(No More) The Sub-Mariner" is nothing short of amazing. Those ARP synth sounds are just unbelievable, and the dramatic approach Hammill gives us is truly a sight to behold! I really love that powerful pulsing synth sound that Hammill does here. "Tapeworm" rocks even more than your typical VdGG, while "Again" is a gentle acoustic number that leads to the dramatic "Faint-Heart and the Sermon". Again the ARP rears its heard, with some synth sounds that don't sound too different from "Funeral for a Friend" that leads me to think it was a 2500. It also has some cool synth effects, but I shouldn't forget the nice Mellotron passages found here. "Gog"/"Magog (In Bromine Chambers)" is truly unbelievable. Dramatic to a capital "D" with harmonium being used and his melodramatic voice. You start thinking the reason for a solo career is because some of this stuff would been too melodramatic even for VdGG standards (you can almost imagine Hugh Banton, Guy Evans, and David Jackson telling him to "Cool it down on the melodrama"). Then the album ends up with some strange sound effects that just sound plain sinister. This is truly a career highlight for Peter Hammill, as far as I'm concerned. This album is very much a classic and to me a five star rating, comes with my very highest recommendation!

 Roaring Forties by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.29 | 84 ratings

Roaring Forties
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Progresearcher

5 stars I was almost shocked when I saw the - incredibly - low rating of the "Roaring Forties" album, and I'm pretty sure that some of its 'raters' (yeah, those who are willing to do anything that helps them create what's just a semblance of their activity as a matter of fact) have either never listened to it or only done so once. No music lover should forget that any profound progressive rock album requires repeated listens. "Roaring Forties" will hardly grab your attention right away. But give the CD several spins and you will love it to death, unless you're a novice to the genre (and, by saying so, I mean classic prog rock - not neo). Most of the music is deep and is chock-full of the arrangements that are highly intricate and intriguing alike. In other words, this is a 100-percent masterpiece. In fact, only two albums from Peter Hammill's solo discography, this one and "The Silent Corner", always gladden me as much as the best Van Der Graaf Generator albums ("H to He", "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff"). So please do not believe any hasty conclusions. Rely exclusively on your own ears, your own experience, et cetera.
 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 759 ratings

The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by LSDisease

5 stars This is my favorite Hammill's album and along with VDGG's Pawn Hearts my favorite album of all time. The most shoking and most artful in the same time. This album same as VDGG releases isn't for those who think that Pink Floyd defined art rock , no no no, this album is for those who are deranged enough to sit through 50 minute apocalypse and later say : would you like another cup of tea dear? Well, anyway, I really love this album. If Pawn Hearts can be described as an organized chaos this one is chaos and beauty. Yes, so much beauty in this chaos, that's why I like it so much. It's not just chaos, you can find many misarable albums with just chaos. But this, this is MUSIC. And like other early Hammill's albums, the best in that box. Unless you don't want music. So If don't, buy some Can album. But if you want music listen to Peter Hammill and enjoy the perils of pure pleasure.
 In Camera by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 343 ratings

In Camera
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Hammill's creative progress for another solo album begins immediately after the release of the genuine ''The silent corner and the empty stage''.He stated that with every new work he wanted to explore something different and this time he decided to work on a project more or less by himself.Around the same time his younger brother Andy fell into coma after an accident with his bicycle and Hammill put all his stress into a creative process.He performed his arrangements on guitars, bass, piano and keyboards and received help in a number of tracks by ex- and present Van der Graaf Generator's drummers Judge Smith and Guy Evans, famous prog-related graphic artist Paul Whitehead on percussion and recording engineer David Hentschel on ARP synthesizer.The album, titled ''In camera'', was released on Charisma in June 1974.

After a vocal-heavy Art/Psych Rock effort and a dark Prog Rock masterpiece, ''In camera'' finds Hammill performing somewhere inbetween these two works, it is definitely his most sinister and haunting album of his early works, filled with dark piano lines, eerie synthesizers and muddy guitars to go along with Hammill's expressive and unique vocals.With no so many comforts regarding the sessions of an album by multi-instrumentalist, this one sounds more minimalistic, instrumental naked and extremely lyrical with only a few sections executed on three or more instruments, so it moves a bit away from the very complex and dense arrangements of the previous album, still holds series of interesting, atmospheric qualities noone except Peter Hammill could offer.''In camera'' is actually led by Hammill's vocal depth and a set of different musical backgrounds, including synth lines and piano movements, lots of acoustic soundscapes and some more regular moments with drumming and an effort closer to a normal group.Consider this more of a lyrical, theatrical and mystic delivery of orchestral, folky and cinematic arrangements with a poet leading the way.An original album in its own way with a powerful contrast between vocals and music and the first few attempts by Hammill on Experimental Music as proposed on the 17-min. ''Gog Magog'', the first part of which is a Gothic-like, intense Prog Rock opus with a full keyboard sound and dominant percussion, where the second 10-min. segment is filled with sound effects and noises, definitely one of an acquired taste, still seeing Hammill doing what he stated, developing his musical horizons.

Dark Art Rock by Mr. Hammill here.Impressive album for a work practically composed and executed by one man back in 1974, slightly too minimalistic and vocal-oriented, still containing the genuine values of Van Der Graaf Generator's offerings.Recommended.

 Over by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.96 | 306 ratings

Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Jeff Carney

2 stars No matter how much I admire Peter Hammill and no matter how much I adore so much of what he came up with in the first half of the seventies, I cannot understand the appeal of this album.

I've always wanted to like it. Always felt that given my level of appreciation for his work, perhaps I even should like it. But viewed through a somewhat objective musical lens, this album is a misstep of the highest order. A self-pity party wrapped up in often less than stellar songs, unfulfilling arrangements, less than interesting riffing and lyrical content that crosses the line between admirable self-confession and just plain pseudo-intellectual misery rants.

"Crying Wolf" starts the album in a fairly straightforward rock and roll manner. The problem is that the riff is somewhat of a throwaway and reveals a tendency that plagues some of Hammill's post- Nadir work; whereby the conceptual overrides the end result or even musical value. It's Hammill having decided that Rikki Nadir deserves a voice in his music, but to what does that concept equate? Here, I'm afraid it fails to move the meter much at all. The riff is played with little intensity. The shortcomings of Hammill's electric guitar playing give way to the concept, and the possibilities of the music struggle underneath this pretext. There simply isn't enough there in the first place to then strip things down.

"Autumn" is perhaps the best piece of music on the album. A gorgeous, twisting and hauntingly melodic song which contemplates the values in growing older in a relationship. Still, something here keeps this from being a home run. In this case, I think the arrangements are a bit cluttered and Graham Smith takes over at times when I want to hear *this* song in a somewhat more sparse manner. This is sometimes a problem for me with Hammill's work. I'll find his unaccompanied live versions of songs to be absolutely mind boggling but the arrangements on the albums to be undisciplined and a victim of the more is less approach.

"Time Heals" makes evident just what pain Hammill was enduring during the recording of this album. And despite one of his worst musical shifts about halfway through this one into a two chord piano riff that just doesn't need life, I think I should state at this point that in my book he is to be commended. Commended for being able to finish this project during a time when he was clearly in tremendous pain. I suppose that, particularly in youth, most of us understand all too well the lack of logic that sometimes follows the heart, so granted it is with older eyes that I say this; but this song leaves me wondering if this woman deserved an entire album devoted to her? Hey! She ran off with your friend, man! Come on. Talk about "over." But instead Hammill begins to spend time on this album examining his own flaws. Even asking in "Alice" whether this is really the end of the story. Clearly a moment of hope amidst his heartbreak which fails to acknowledge the deeper issue at hand: What kind of woman leaves a seven year relationship and runs off with your friend? I can't help but feel a combination of sympathy for and frustration with Hammill at this point.

"Looking Glass" is a beautiful piece of work. For some reason it reminds me of Black Sabbath's "She's Gone" in that both songs seem to be rooted in unabashed sadness and seek to never leave a drop of hope on the floor for anything but loneliness. For some reason I find Hammill's delivery here to be solid but not on par with his very best. Can't really out my finger on why. It's a damned good track. I'll leave it at that. As is "Betrayed," which follows, featuring Hammill in a pure, raw form as only he can capture.

And that about does it. By the time I get through "Yoga" and "Lost and Found" I am ready to play "The Peel Sessions" and remind myself just what a genius Hammill could be on his own. On Over, he has revealed a side to his writing which, while entirely original, lacks defined musical passion and power. It's an album for his ex, not for me.

 Fool's Mate by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 298 ratings

Fool's Mate
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Peter Hammill's debut album stands in relation to his solo career much like "The Aerosol Grey Machine" does to his output with Van Der Graaf Generator: as a worthwhile anomaly separate from the main body of his recorded work. The album is notable for its refreshing lack of tortured self- analysis, placing it alongside the sunny proto-punk of "Nadir's Big Chance" as the easiest Peter Hammill album to digest in a single sitting.

Compared to subsequent efforts it can appear disarmingly facile at times. Song titles like "Happy" and "Sunshine" suggest an uncomplicated optimism rare for such an otherwise thoughtful artist. And "Vision" stands as arguably one of the purest love ballads ever written, by Hammill or anyone else. But as always there's more to the album than what first meets the ear, and when played in isolation there isn't one song here that isn't unblinkingly honest, or less than typically literate.

Even the jaunty album opener "Imperial Zeppelin" undermines its own Utopian vision of rising above a planet where "hate is seething / nothing's worth believing" with a quick, cold shower of fatalism uncommon in 1971: "Of course we all know very well / It wouldn't work, but what the hell..." And that's during one of the album's lighter songs! By the time Hammill begins slashing at his acoustic guitar with unconcealed fury (in the otherwise gently reflective "I Once Wrote Some Poems") it's clear a very different and darker species of butterfly was emerging from its musical chrysalis.

Very little here conforms to the accepted Prog Rock stereotypes of the 1970's, except the creative thinking and restless intellect ("Let me sleep / Let me dream / Let me be!" he implores us in "Re- Awakening"). At this early stage of his career Hammill was already staking his position as a uniquely personal singer-songwriter, standing apart from the Progressive Rock ideals of the time. Despite the crowded guest list on his first solo album, including all his Van Der Graaf pals, plus Robert Fripp and members of Lindisfarne, Hammill was (and remains) the driver, chief mechanic, and conductor on a bandwagon of one.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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